“Focus on the user and all else will follow.”
That’s one of the first lines in Google’s guiding philosophy, titled Ten things we know to be true. The company has, since its inception, focused on providing its audience with the best user experience possible – a fact which is reflected in all its products, from Android to Google Home to the Google search engine. It’s also what Google demands of other website owners.
Just look at each of the most recent changes the company has made to its algorithms. The purpose of each update, at its core, is to provide people with better, more accurate, higher-quality search results. To go beyond returning results based on what people have entered into the search console and understand what they actually want to find.
“Understanding is the cornerstone of modern SEO,” reads a blog post by artificial intelligence-based SEO agency Brightedge. “Brands that want to succeed need to make sure they have a firm understanding of what customers search for and what they want to see when they enter these queries…Google in particular has been continually looking for ways to better understand search intent, including the push towards optimizing for micro-moments and differentiating SERPs based upon the anticipated content desires of the users.”
But what does any of this have to do with the user experience for your website’s visitors?
Everything. If you are to succeed on the modern web, you need to do more than optimize your website’s content. You need to do more than provide users with the information they’ve searched for. You need to give them what they’re looking for and do it in a way that’s easy to navigate, understand, and access.
There are a few things that go into this.
- Load speed. Faster is better – ideally, you want to keep your page load speeds at around 2 to 3 seconds at most.
- Simplicity. A user should be able to find anything they’re looking for with the smallest number of clicks possible. There’s a reason single-page websites are becoming the norm – because simplicity sells.
- Navigability. Avoid overly-complicated menus. The more cluttered your menu is, the more difficult it will be to navigate. More importantly, it should be clear where each menu item leads, and calls to action should be easily-discernable.
- Mobile-friendliness. Most people browse the web on their smartphones and tablets – if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re alienating your visitors.
- An understanding of intent. Each page on your site should be geared not just towards the search terms that people use to find them, but the reason they’re there. If they’re looking for information, they should find it. If they’re looking to buy something, they should be brought to a storefront. You might also consider including Q&A sections on your site for commonly-asked questions.
UX and SEO are inextricably linked. Particularly as Google continues to improve and refine its algorithm you cannot truly have one without the other. Bear that in mind moving forward, and you should be just fine.